Easy Weeknight Dinner: Queso Pasta

During the week, my time with the kids is pretty limited.
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When I have to run additional errands after work, something has to give! Last week, it was dinner. Monday we did my favorite standby: tacos. Tuesday we supported my son’s elementary school at CiCi’s night. Wednesday I stopped at the store and bought rolls, meats and cheeses and had build your own sandwiches. Amazingly, my kids loved it. Roast beef and hard salami went over great. Even my daughter, who went a year without eating sandwiches, ate two of them. I guess it was the novelty and the fun rolls–Hawaiian Sweet Sandwich Rolls and Hawaiian Honey Wheat rolls. They asked for it again on Thursday!

I decided to cook something different though. I am a big fan of cooking magazines, and I have subscribed to Taste of Home’s Simple and Delicious for years. I also recently discovered a great cookbook for busy moms: Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross. Love this cookbook! You would think I could easily pull a recipe and go for it, right? Sometimes I do, but these also inspire me to be creative. Isn’t necessity the mother of invention? I like to invent on the fly. I have a recipe for a queso macaroni and cheese that my husband loves, but my kids find too spicy. There is also the trouble of coming up with a protein and veggies for the meal. My solution: A new recipe!

I’m calling it Queso Pasta with Chicken and Tomatoes. My kids loved it, and even my husband was impressed. The best part is that it had the protein and veggie included! I’m happy to have something new in our menu, and it was all stuff that I had at the house already. Recipe follows.

Yummy Dinner tonight!

1 lb. pasta

4 chicken breasts

Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cumin, Oregano, Chili Powder

1 tbs. olive oil

15 oz. Queso

1 14.5 oz Can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes

The only pasta I had was spaghetti, so I used that broken up into thirds. I would have preferred spirals or shells, I think they would capture the sauce better, but it actually stuck to the spaghetti really well. Get your pasta water started while you defrost and cut up 4 chicken breasts into bite size pieces.

Season chicken generously with Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cumin, and Oregano ( I didn’t measure these…I eyeballed it but I do mean GENEROUS!). If your water is ready, put 1 pound of pasta into cook. Heat some olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet–I added some Medium-Hot Chili powder to the oil, but you could also sprinkle it on the chicken. Cook chicken pieces in batches until no longer pink. Put all chicken back into the skillet and add a drained can of Fire-roasted Diced Tomatoes (I buy Hunt’s, because I noticed that Del Monte adds high fructose corn syrup to their canned tomatoes…I don’t like the added sweetness). Stir well and turn heat down to low.

When pasta is done, drain well and put in a LARGE bowl with 1 tablespoon of butter and a 15 oz jar of store-bought queso. I used Taco Bell Salsa con Queso, Medium flavor. Mix well and allow hot pasta to melt butter and queso. Add chicken and tomato mixture and stir well. Let sit for a few minutes to blend flavors. Serve with additional grated cheddar cheese if desired.

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